Team meetings always kill me.
In the job I'm working now, there's a particular emphasis on "being passionate about what we do" and "bringing 110% of us to the table". Most of the people I'm working with are uber into what we're doing, and have long-term dreams for both the company and their part in it 30 years down the road.
Me? I just need money.
Sitting in the circle of chairs while our boss casts vision, encouraging us to grab hold of it and run with him, I wish more and more that I could literally sink into my seat and disappear. I don't want to die, just... not exist.
I like my job. The tasks and projects that I work on are often fun, and although it's still "work" it's a nice kind of work. But as soon as someone starts talking about “where we’ll be as a team in 10 years” or how “this job makes me feel so alive and fulfilled” I start looking for the exits. Wow, you really feel that way? Maybe I’m taking up someone else’s place, because I don’t feel that way.
There's a sense that every day I spend with this company is investing in a future here — a future that I don't want to live in. Impending doom.
What do I do? Maaaaaybe, find another job.
Sometimes that works. But let's explore that for a minute.
Although it's particularly intense with the job I'm doing now, I've noticed a common passion-for-the-company theme in every job. When I worked for a pizza shop a few years ago, I remember watching videos on the Founding of the Company as part of my initial training.
I was pretty good at making pizza, and in my mind, being good at making pizza should be the main qualification for pizza-makers in your pizza shop. I just lacked a certain, I don't know, enthusiasm that my managers were looking for. I didn't believe in the company, and even though I didn't talk about it, I guess it showed through.
My thought was, "I make pizza, you pay me for making pizza." Their thought was, "You make pizza, and that makes you are an adopted member of the company family, your future is tied to ours, you represent our heart with each pepperoni slice you lay, and you better understand how serious it is."
I need money, does that mean I have to sell my soul?
A company totally has the right to choose who they hire and who they don't. If I was the business owner, I'd want people in my business that represented me well. This realization sucks, because I get it. But what does that mean for us who are looking to make an honest living without living a lie? I can't go each day pretending I care, when I actually don't give a crap.
1) Decide how much you DO care
You might not buy in to the whole 100-year vision, but there's gotta be at least a little part of you that cares about the business. What IS your vision? Don't think about whether it's good enough or big enough, just figure it out. It'd probably help to grab a pen and paper (or a whiteboard, if you're like me) and jot it down.
Maybe it's to make the customers feel welcome. Maybe it's to see your small store in the franchise get some corporate recognition. Maybe you think your manager is a great guy, and you'd like to see him succeed.
2) Once you know where you stand, don't stray from it
In a way, let's 80/20 our passion. You might seem half as enthusiastic as your co-worker, but that's no problem. If your caring is purely authentic it's actually going to be way more believable and last a lot longer.
Also, when you're just being honest, it's INCREDIBLE how easy it becomes. Faking passion, or even just bearing the guilt for not feeling passionate enough, are where the real problems come from. You will burn out. Fast.
So don't add to it or take from it, just let it BE.
3) Remind yourself how much you do AND don't care
This is where having it written down comes in handy.
It helps me a ton to pull out my journal and re-read my list. I kinda forget where I stand after being around co-workers and representing my company to clients. It starts to feel like I'm being sucked in to the company vortex again, and that my presence in the business is a declaration in itself of how much I love everything we're doing. How offensive! Wanting desperately to reinstate myself as an individual, my heart starts to cry "Rebel! Get out! Run!"
How much do I care again? And how much do I NOT care? Sometimes you just need to remind yourself.
4) Leave Work at Work
You need weekends. You need time when you're not at work, and you're not thinking about work. You need to remind your mind and body that your life is not centered around your company. And to do this, you need to LEAVE WORK AT THE BUILDING.
When I come home, I might have left my stuff in the office, but my brain is still carrying work with me. What am I going to do about that email in the morning? Does my co-worker hate me? Ideas for that project...
STUPID. STUPID. STUPID. Don't do it!
Make a conscious choice to not think about work. If, for some reason, you must, SCHEDULE IT and don't let it sneak into your off-time.
Start an "I'm home now" ritual. Something that helps you transition OUT of work and INTO being home. For me, I get into my pajamas and play with my dog for a couple minutes. For you it might be taking a shower, or turning your phone off, or playing music and making a cup of tea, etc. Try some stuff and find out what works for you.
Honestly, your job has nothing to do with you. It's someone else's dream.
Your future is not wrapped up in the fate of your company. It's a fair trade to get paid money to pour into someone else's vision, but don't loose yourself in the process.
Spending time doing things that have nothing to do with your job remind your body and your mind that you're alive for something else.
What do you want to do and accomplish? What does the perfect normal day look like in your imagination?
There is more. This is just a small section of your life. You may be working for someone else's dream and just trying to not burn out in the process, but what are you moving towards? Having hope for the future gives today meaning.